Voters in Barbados will cast ballots on Thursday in a close but low key race between the ruling Democratic Labour Party led by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the opposition Barbados Labour Party led by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur. Thirty seats in Parliament are at stake in the general election in the southeast Caribbean nation of 290,000 people, with the leader of the winning party becoming prime minister. Polling released on Monday by the Caribbean Development Research Services Inc, or CADRES, gave a slight margin in favor of the opposition Barbados Labour Party, or BLP, both in terms of seats and in popular support.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they favored Arthur, who was prime minister from 1994 to 2008, while 32 percent supported the incumbent Stuart. The poll predicted the BLP could win 17 to 20 parliamentary seats, with the ruling Democratic Labour Party, or DLP, taking 10 to 13 seats. There are 68 candidates in all, counting independents and those running for the fledgling Bajan Free Party.
Elections were called three weeks ago and there have been no televised debates between the leaders of the two main parties. The short campaign period and lack of national discussion have left many Barbadians with a sense that the issues most pressing to them have yet to be addressed.